drama films http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/taxonomy/term/899 en It's Not history. It's Content. http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/node/4205 <span>It&#039;s Not history. It&#039;s Content.</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/user/7306" lang="" about="/index.php/user/7306" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Chet Kozlowski</a></span> <span>June 20, 2023 - 15:45</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/899" hreflang="en">drama films</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2023/2023-06/lovegetsaroom.jpeg?itok=hUTN9FPx" width="1200" height="511" alt="Thumbnail" title="lovegetsaroom.jpeg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p><i>Love Gets a Room</i> is an award-caliber new film featuring reputable actors and state-of-the-art cinema technology.</p> <p>Set in Warsaw 1942, it takes its title from an actual play which was performed one time only as Nazi troops occupied Poland. In this film, a troupe of Jewish actors simultaneously stages the play while plotting escape from their besieged ghetto. The "room" of the title is analogous to Anne Frank's attic, a shelter for Jewish fugitives.</p> <p><i>Love Gets a Room</i> recreates that single performance in real time while imagining circumstances behind it. We follow Stefcia, the lead actor, who is desired by two other actors in the production. Stefcia loves Jozek, who has a rival in Patrik, who loves Stefcia and has stolen money to spirit her to safety. Only two people can get away undetected. With which suitor will Stefcia go? Schemes are hatched, choices are made, trusts are betrayed. A cast member observes, "What matters here is being loved, not loving."</p> <p>The camera follows Stefcia in CGI-edited tracking shots, simulated long takes, as she glides, dips, and weaves through backstage walkways and intermittently pops into the action on the stage. The actors recite their lines, send codes in dialogue, exchange furtive glances, and frequently break into song. All goes well—the raucous full-house of working-class Jewish denizens is entertained—until the doors burst open, and armed Nazi soldiers walk in.</p> <p><i>Love Gets a Room</i> is written and directed by rising Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés. His previous films include <i>Red Lights</i> (2012) and <i>Buried </i>(2012). His next film boasts Martin Scorsese as executive producer. <i>Love Gets a Room</i> is a prestige production and will certainly vie for international awards.</p> <p>That said.</p> <p>I couldn't wait for it to be over.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5NXRhaBX3JI?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>It runs only a brisk 103 minutes, but the conceit of the film becomes concerning, then galling. Don't get me wrong: The actors are good. The plot generates pathos. The action is skillfully choreographed. <i>Love Gets a Room</i> recalls other movies and will be entertaining for many in a familiar way. But it treats frivolously a serious subject.</p> <p>Some of the films it recalls are <i>Schindler's List</i> (1993) and <i>Life is Beautiful </i>(1997), both about the Jewish experience in WWII. It also recalls <i>Birdman</i> (2014) and <i>1917 </i>(2019). Like those films, <i>Love </i>digitally simulates "real time" vicarious participation. It's a thrill ride. About the Holocaust.</p> <p>Holocaust movies have always troubled. While the events are in the past, we are not far removed from them. <i>Schindler's List</i> took criticism when released and, despite its status as a classic, is still considered by some to be an appropriation, or exploitation of a tragic period of history.</p> <p><i>Love Gets a Room</i> is not history. It is Content, designed to be experienced as part of the current avalanche of digital product, like games and virtual reality. Its purpose is to make us feel as if we are <i>there</i>. It simulates actual experience.</p> <p>Film is a passive medium for everybody but the filmmakers. It presents as visual art but does not engage the receiver's imagination in the same way as, say, literature. Nothing is required of viewers but our attention. We are voyeurs who tacitly witness struggles and sacrifices that for some will always represent catastrophic tragedy.</p> <p>Rodrigo Cortés is a high-concept filmmaker, and this is his highest yet. To achieve his goal, Mr. Cortés' storytelling is reductive. There's nothing subtle about his symbolism, and it's <i>all </i>symbolism. The <i>mise en scene</i> is based on facile contrast: dark backstage against bright footlights, real vs. scripted, good vs. evil, black vs. white.</p> <p>The theater experience is updated and contemporized. It asks us to believe that in 1942 beleaguered Jews, if they attended theater at all, would react with the same cadence as modern audiences. The auditorium itself is incongruously <i>au courant</i>, an immaculate palace that houses a colorful set on one end and a darkly attired audience on the other. Those ghetto dwellers <i>en masse</i> are caricatures. The caricatures comprise stagehands and members of the orchestra as well. When individual musicians are singled out, dressed as they are in rags, the effect is comical, like watching the Muppet Show.</p> <p>Most of all,<i> Love Gets a Room </i>has a peculiar buoyancy. It's very pleased with itself in its planning. It moves with sustained jauntiness, rarely pausing to absorb the soberness of its premise.</p> <p>Consider its points of view. We primarily trail Stefcia and see events unfold as she does. Sometimes she interacts with the other actors onstage. For a dramatic scene, our point of view changes, and we are with a Nazi officer in the front row, a character who briefly bridges stage and audience.</p> <p>But notice. We never sit in the audience. We never sit amongst the tradespeople, the merchants, the urchins, the poor. Why is that? Is it too much of a downer to sit amongst the doomed? We never see them as individuals or other than a dark faceless mass. And we certainly don't follow them beyond the events of the film, after the final curtain, onto the trucks and trains. But we know history. We know their fate.</p> <p>But there's no time to consider history or be indignant.<i> Love Gets a Room</i> must keep moving, bouncing along. We must keep that beachball aloft.</p> <p>(Postscript: I wish much luck to the actors Clara Rugaard as Stefcia, Jack Roth as Jozek, Mark Ryder as Patryk, and Anastasia Hille as Irena. All of them are excellent, capable of nuance, and deserve long careers.)</p> <p>_______________________________________________________</p> <p><i>Love Gets a Room.</i> Written and directed by Rodrigo Cortés, with excerpts from the play<i> </i>written by Jerzy Jurandot. 2021. A Nostromo Pictures production. 103 minutes. In theaters.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4205&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="iAHr45RJPvPY8oq1okdLlZ3QBXusJ6gN6iB9pQdeso8"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 20 Jun 2023 19:45:58 +0000 Chet Kozlowski 4205 at http://www.culturecatch.com Film Maudit 2.0: A Celebration of the Scandalous, the Perturbing, and the Too Delicious http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/node/4168 <span>Film Maudit 2.0: A Celebration of the Scandalous, the Perturbing, and the Too Delicious</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>January 24, 2023 - 18:55</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/899" hreflang="en">drama films</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2023/2023-01/maudit_festival_poster_0.jpeg?itok=RjxsLs2M" width="1200" height="522" alt="Thumbnail" title="maudit_festival_poster.jpeg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p>The Los Angeles-based Film Maudit 2.0 began on January 12<sup>th</sup> and runs until January 22nd. </p> <p>For those of you not on the West Coast who can't get your butts to the Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica  let's say for some reason you're situated in Idaho or Djibouti -- you can still partake of the Fest's extensive offerings online (<a href="https://mhznetowrks.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=83e01ef553801494b88dd4933&amp;id=3bf5bda600&amp;e=ac977c6f58">watch.filmmaudit.org</a>), and you can watch them for free or pay what you will. Doublecheck that and get back to me.</p> <p>As for the literal translation of the term <i>film maudit</i>,<i> </i>it's "cursed film." Well, back in 1949, <a href="http://culturecatch.com/node/4074">as I noted in last year's coverage</a>, the writer/director/god Jean Cocteau ushered in a jury that pulled together a showcase of cinematic offerings that’d been slighted at the time or were judged "shocking, outré, and bold." The result: the legendary Festival du Film Maudit in Biarritz. Among the showcased were Kenneth Anger's zipper-exploding <em>Fireworks</em> (1947) and Jean Vigo's <i>L'Atalante </i>(1934).</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vzTN0YnKmOs?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Well, as you’ve might've heard, the actress Candice Bergen once insisted: "Dreams are, by definition, cursed with short life spans." Not so with the over 100 visions from over 25 countries that you will view at Maudit. Once seen, many of these concoctions that first percolated within the skulls of those who watched <i>Un Chien Andalou </i>and <i>Planet 9 from Outer Space </i>way too often will instantly begin to rattle your brain cells and continue to do so for years to come.</p> <p>Take<a href="http://www.ryanmcglade.com"> Ryan McGlade's <em>Buddymovie</em></a>, winner of the Best U.S. Narrative at the prestigious Drunken Film Fest Oakland. This 12-minute short begins with an unshaven, nameless gent (Jeremy Levick) being belittled telepathically by a large, corrugated metal warehouse with a British accent: "If you don’t stop singing, I'm going to cut your fucking dick off. . . Your family doesn't like you. No one fuckin' likes you, so why don't you do me a favor and fuck off?"</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="759" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2023/2023-01/the_buddympvie.jpeg?itok=frPzVW6K" title="the_buddympvie.jpeg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>Still from Ryan McGlade's Buddymovie</figcaption></figure><p>The warehouse continues that no one in school liked the Nameless One because he smelled. In fact, everyone called him "Big Dump." Upset by that recollection, BD runs away and starts using his umbrella as a sword on invisible opponents. Mid-thrust, an old school friend (the transporting Rajat Suresh) pops by, recalls the whole "Big Dump" bullying, and eventually the pair go see a film at the buddy's house-of-sorts. The funny movie they see causes BD to pee down his leg and into his own shoe.</p> <p>Many directors, like Spielberg, would end the short here, but instead there's a fabulous Sartrean finale that includes the overbearing warehouse. Imagine an existential Laurel and Hardy one-reeler, and you have it.</p> <p>(By the way, slyly enrapturing Levick, when not acting, writes for <i>The Onion </i>and pens video scripts such as "<a href="https://twitter.com/theonion/status/921074218367721472">FBI Investigating Fourth-Grade Kid Who Said Has Seen Over 200 Dead Bodies</a>.") </p> <p>Decades ago, Christopher Durang wrote the now classic <i>The Actor's Nightmare</i>, a short play<i> </i>that captured the fears of a thespian walking on stage and not knowing what play he’s in, let alone any of the lines. Is it Noel Coward or Beckett?</p> <p><iframe allow="autoplay; fullscreen; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/608377115?h=67cec3f539" width="640"></iframe></p> <p><a href="https://vimeo.com/608377115">The Breakdown Parables :: Official Trailer</a> from <a href="https://vimeo.com/user15580100">Irrelevant Media</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p> <p>Emil Benjamin now explores another actor's nightmare: the audition. In the cleverly titled <em>The Breakdown Parable</em>, there are five skits about five groups of actors vying for five different parts. The action takes place in the waiting room of a casting office. The central soul here is a failed would-be actress-turned-receptionist (the amiably overwrought Maria DeCotis) who has to check them all in. Between filing headshots, she yearns, she weeps, and she might even have sex, but that could just be her fantasy. It's that type of short. With a multitalented cast that can sneer, break furniture, backstab, dance in drag, and overact with the best of them, all in front a group of bemused classical paintings on the walls, Benjamin energetically unsheathes the untethered manic underpinnings of Those Who Would Be Stars.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/A33mU78duuE?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>The Australian Owen Lawie does not like <i>Luca</i> at all. He wrote on Letterboxd: "The same corporation-feigning-humanity bullshit as ever. Western animation is plagued by a violent allergy to doing anything even remotely close to unexpected or challenging." Well, those are fighting words that Mr. Lawie lives by. Clearly, he has set a high-bar template for Disney and Pixar with his hilarious, strung-out, psychodelic-licious short, <em>Christmas Movie</em>.</p> <p>The film opens with two blitzed bros on a couch watching TV, one in a shirt and tie, the other in his undies. Well, out comes the bong, and suddenly when they look at each other, one sees a tiny dog, the other a beaver-like creature. Immediately, they start making out and quite possibly having wild sex. Who wouldn't? But we can't be certain because taking over the screen is a skipping female elf and her buddies, followed by kaleidoscopic visuals that only Timothy Leary might find sedate. Then there's the best visual equivalent of someone having an orgasm without displaying someone having an orgasm in the Biden era.</p> <p>After copulation comes depression. That's a fact no one can deny. So our underwear guy, possibly due his former foreign-substance inhalations, perceives himself as being confronted by a creature in hazamat suits with glowing white bulbs for eyes. Hey, is that Santa Claus? Oh, no, why is Santa letting trouser fall to the floor?</p> <p>And to all a good night...</p> <p><strong><em>AND FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MISSED LAST YEAR'S MAUDIT, READ ON...</em></strong></p> <p>The literal translation of the term <i>film maudit </i>is "cursed film." Well, back in 1949, the writer/director/god Jean Cocteau headed a jury that pulled together a showcase of cinematic offerings that'd been overlooked at the time or were deemed "shocking, outré, and bold." The result: the apparently legendary Festival du Film Maudit in Biarritz. Included were Kenneth Anger’s zipper-exploding "Fireworks" (1947) and Jean Vigo’s <i>L'Atalante </i>(1934).</p> <p>Sixty years later, the Harvard Film Archive saluted the Festival with a program that presented among others John Waters' <i>Pink Flamingos </i>(1972), Robert Aldrich's <i>The Killing of Sister George </i>(1968), and Pasolini’s <i>Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom </i>(1975)<i>. </i></p> <p>A highlight of my early reviewing life occurred when the latter Pasolini adaptation of the Marquis de Sade novel was screened at the New York Film Festival just before its American release. Sitting in the mezzanine, leaning over the railing, I was able to watch over two-thirds of the sold-out screening running out in heels during the infamous poop-dinner scene.</p> <p><i>Pink Flamingos </i>also included a poop-ingestion moment that immediately bestowed stardom on the actor Divine. Audiences at its midnight screenings, however, never ran out. They were too stoned.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gLTnzo-nd8Q?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Now carrying on this tribute to unappreciated, experimental, and sidelined films is the Third Annual Film Maudit 2.0. Presented by the L.A. Performance Space and Gallery Highways from January 12-23, daring cinephiles will now be able to envelope their minds in over 100 works from 23 countries both virtually and in person. Thanks to Festival Artistic Director Patrick Kennelly, you can expect both the new and a few classics from the vault such as Russ Meyer's singular paean to man-killers with massive bosoms, <i>Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Kill! </i>(1965).<i> </i></p> <p>Once considered porn-ish, the flick has now gained quite a few feminist credentials. Just ask revered critic B. Ruby Rich who, after 50 years, has revised her initial stance. She now insists that <i>Faster Pussycat</i> is no longer "a prehistoric relic of a film, steeped in misogyny and outdated values."</p> <p>John Waters adds that <i>Faster Pussycat </i>is "beyond a doubt, the best movie ever made. It is possibly better than any film that will be made in the future."  And who can argue when the screenplay offers dialogue that includes: "Women! They let 'em vote, smoke and drive -- even put 'em in pants! And what happens? A Democrat for president!"?</p> <p>Moving on to current fare, there's Johannes Grenzfurthner's deliriously witty, yet highly discomforting, <i>Masking Threshold </i>(2021), a feature that brought me immense joy when I finally realized it was not a documentary. The chance that I could have ever actually run into its deranged IT worker, P.T. Alcorn, on the street would have made me quite agoraphobic.</p> <p>(The locale of <i>Threshold</i>, by the way, is Apopka, Florida. Population: 51,800 as of 2019.)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZQzaYXYcYWc?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Mr. Alcorn, who we never get to see in totality, is a polymathic nerd of a man suffering from <i>extreme</i> tinnitus in his little, unkempt house. "Tinnitus," he explains, "is the hearing of the sound that has no external source." The resulting unending attack on his eardrums has upended his gay relationship, his ability to go to work, and his sanity. He is now searching for a cure employing various devices and creatures such as a Blackmagic camera, a polyester shirt, purchases from Best Buy, worms, ants, and lots of fungi. "I want a chance at a normal life," he insists. His mother suggests gingko might restore him to normality. Otherwise, her boyfriend, an Asian, alcoholic acupuncturist who works as a dishwasher at the Olive Garden, might be the answer.</p> <p>The film is a detailed chronicle of Alcorn's increasingly mad experimentations, his phone calls and email, and his hatred of barking dogs. Then there's the added bonus of closeup shots of his clipping his toenails and removing his earwax with Q-tips. (You just might never want to look at a Q-tip again.)</p> <p>There're also loads of quotable dialogue you'll surely want to share with your loved ones: "Many people die at 25 and aren't buried until they are 75"; "Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people"; and "If life gives you lemonade, inspect it closely. It might be piss."</p> <p>With one of the best screenplays of recent years (preferable to <i>Licorice Pizza</i>'s), with the superb cinematography of Florian Hofer, and the awe-inducing editing by both Grenzfurthner and Hofer, <i>Masking Threshold </i>is a wry, dissective look at modern society's derangement. It might get a little too Grand Guignol for some in its closing moments, but if you can embrace a character that's equal parts Woody Allen, Norman Bates, and the Cartoon Network's Dexter, has Festival Maudit got a film for you!</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QIrcz-E9qEw?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Jean-Christophe Meurisse's <i>Bloody Oranges </i>(2021)<i> </i>is probably the closest we'll get this year to a first-rate, off-the-wall French satire on the governing and the governed, one reminiscent of Luis Buñuel's <i>The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie </i>(1972). Brazen hypocrisy is seemingly king here among the ruling Gauls. The Finance Minster is squirreling away hundreds of thousands of Euros across the boarder while his sycophants are dreaming of ways to do away with the citizens' pensions and benefits. "What if we tax abortions?" one asks.</p> <p>Then there's the onion-burping female gynecologist whose advice to a 16-year-old virgin about men, first-time-sex, and aging vaginas might be too-in-your face. Oh, and let's not forget the elderly couple competing in a rock 'n' roll dance contest to pay off their debts; the lawyer who believes males are a superior breed and that truth should be overlooked by his guilty clients; the rather insane leftist who feeds his gigantic pig sausages; and the extremely abusive taxi driver who . . . . Well, some things should remain a surprise.</p> <p>Giddily witty, shocking now and then, while consistently entertaining, <i>Bloody Oranges </i>exposes the inanities of both the privileged and underprivileged classes, sexism, and passion, while showcasing an amazing example of true love and a horrifying new use for microwave ovens. Meurisse claims this quick-paced offering, one you’ll want to rewatch, was inspired by actual news stories. Now that is more than a bit discomforting.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Jj-9K1W9sds?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>For those of you with an extreme fondness for British bus drivers, amateur theater groups, and Ridley Scott's <i>Alien</i> (1979), your prayers are answered by the documentary <i>Alien on Stage. </i>The directors, two long time friends, Danielle Kummer and Lucy Harvey, accidentally came upon a "serious" dramatic production of the cult sci-fi film enacted by a company of mostly middle-aged bus drivers in Dorset. The group's goal: to raise money for charity, I believe, and have fun.</p> <p>With wobbly sets, well-intentioned costumes, dedicated "would-be" actors, and some sincerely meant direction, the play attracted an audience of 20 and was considered an unassailable flop. A flop until it wasn't one. Or as someone notes, when "the right piece of art [is] met by the right audience, you get magic."</p> <p>Brought to London, to the Leicester Square Theatre, the very same stage that regularly hosts the likes of Joan Collins, the one-night, under-rehearsed production was quickly sold out and greeted like it was the rebirth of <i>The Rocky Horror Show. </i>"Crikey!"</p> <p>"We're bus drivers. We're allowed to cock things up. We always do," one star noted.</p> <p>There were cheers, unrestrained laughter, lengthy applause, and, of course, a standing ovation. Just wait until you see the alien creature break out of the character Kane's stomach. Who needs millions of dollars of special effects? Or as one ticket buyer asserted: "I've been at the National and ENO and Convent Garden. I predominantly work in opera, but <i>Alien, Live on Stage . . . </i>was one of the greatest moments I think I've ever had in the theater." This doc captures that glee in spades.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3o7EL6Q1C_0?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Moving to another genre -- tongue-in-cheek horror -- writer/director Javi Camino's <i>Jacinto </i>is billed in its press notes as what occurs when "<i>The Texas Chain Saw Massacre</i> meets<i> Forrest Gump</i>." There's a good chance that the creator of that allusion never saw either film.</p> <p>Jacinto (Pedro Brandariz), the anti-hero here, is sort of mentally disabled, even muter version of Nicolas Cage's character in last year's acclaimed <i>Pig, </i>except he can't cook<i>.</i> Living with his parents and his pet hog Martino in Mallou, a semi-impoverished village in the Galician mountains, Jacinto lumbers about, sometimes wearing huge paper-mâché masks and often being bullied about by local teens for online videos. When alone in his bedroom, he watches decades-old vampire flicks on VHS tapes supplied to him by his coke-sniffing, heavily indebted brother. To Jacinto, the bloodsucking ghouls on his TV screen are not figures of fantasy, but actual beings debauching the world. </p> <p>The Old-World priest with his fiery rants at the local church increases Jacinto's belief in this evil possibility every Sunday: "The Pope spoke about the Devil as I have spoken to you many times. He said the Devil isn't something vague. He is a person. The Devil might be your neighbor."</p> <p>Oh, no! Two leather-clad females, members of a heavy metal group, have just moved next door to Jacinto's family, and they are pounding out the Devil's music while at times wearing facial makeup à la Kiss. Lucifer and his ilk have no doubt arrived causing Jacinto immediately to get out the garlic. And the spikes!</p> <p>Will discordant electric guitar strumming barraging his eardrums and the possibility of Martino being turned into sausages further unhinge the already unhinged gent? Of course!</p> <p>With a sense of the macabre not unlike that of the William Castle films of the late 1950s/early 1960s; a dash of class-struggle realities; some group folk singing around the dinner table; and superb cinematography, here's quite an enjoyable offering that was a Jury Award Winner at last year's Austin Film Festival.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mMMJXeVMtQQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Then there's Austrian director Norbert Pfaffenbichler's <i>2551.01</i>, subtitled "The Child."</p> <p>Consider the following raves from a handful of top critics: "One of cinema's most unsettling nightmares." "A singular work of the imagination, a harrowing, heartbreaking plunge into the darkest recesses of the soul." And "a film that [takes] elements that one might have encountered in other movies in the past -- black humor, gore, surrealism, erotic imagery, gorgeous black-and-white cinematography and oddball performances -- and presents them in such a unique and deeply personal manner that the end result [is] something that literally looks, sounds and feels like nothing that had ever come before it."</p> <p>The above praise is all for David Lynch's 1977 debut feature <i>Eraserhead</i>, yet it all applies equally, and if not more, to <i>2551.01, </i>a tale of an underground dystopia patrolled by a militaristic, white-clad police force. Said to be spiritually inspired by Charlie Chaplin's classic <i>The Kid </i>(1921), the story begins with a man (Erber Stefan) with the head of an ape saving a child (Ionescu David) with a sack over his. The lad, to the apeman's chagrin, won’t leave his side.</p> <p>This is a chronicle of the duo's survival in a world where maybe enduring another day is not always the best choice. What if life was a continued nightmare, one where there was no escape into a dreamworld? Hey! Is that a deranged recreation of <i>Alice in Wonderland's </i>dinner<i> </i>party? Is that moment a bow to the Kafkaesque. A paean to Hieronymus Bosch? That's what this fantasy invokes.</p> <p>Every head here is grotesquely masked, yet oddly beautiful, too. Inarguably, if you were streaming <i>2551.01</i> and continually halting the film, you'd notice every image is worthy of being framed. Yes, this might just one of the most completely realized artistic visions that's reflective of what we're all living through. And Pfaffenbichler promises a sequel. That will be quite a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvHSZpeKwcg&amp;ab_channel=AustrianFilmMuseum">double bill</a>.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=4168&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="lS-m_2PR208TFLBSHmJT0lKJQDmRD_zIt3G908hmXnI"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 24 Jan 2023 23:55:46 +0000 Brandon Judell 4168 at http://www.culturecatch.com Shorties: The Future, The Guard, and The Menstruation Machine http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/film/future-guard-menstruation-machine <span>Shorties: The Future, The Guard, and The Menstruation Machine</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>July 23, 2011 - 20:25</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/899" hreflang="en">drama films</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><img alt="" height="133" src="/sites/default/files/images/miranda-july-future.jpg" style="width:250px; height:166px; float:right" width="200" /></p> <p> </p> <p><strong><em>1.) The Future</em></strong></p> <p>Los Angeleans Jason (Hamish Linklater) and Sophie (Miranda July) are the perfectly matched couple: both being good natured, slightly disheveled, almost attractive, and 35. The two, with their failed dreams and lack of future prospects, do have their love and their commitment to that affection to get them by. At least that's what's gotten them stumbling along smoothly now for four years. Their non-storybook-like romance, however, is about to change.</p> <p>Jason, who works from home as a customer service aide for a computer company, and Sophie, who's a dance teacher for tiny tots, have agreed to adopt Paw Paw, a rather sickly stray cat on its last legs. This metaphysically bent feline that ruminates aloud throughout the film on life, death, and loneliness is scheduled to move in with the couple in 30 days, once the cast on his front left limb is removed.</p> <p>This commitment, which might seem minor to many, causes these lovers to reexamine their lives as if they were marching towards parenthood.</p> <p>Jason: I always thought I'd be smarter.</p> <p>Realizing they both have only a month before they have to start changing cat litter and administering 24-hour care to Paw Paw, Jason and Samantha quit their jobs and disconnect from the Internet to experience life as they have never done before: straight on.  The problem is that the freedom they desire seems to be overrated or at least unwieldy.</p> <p>Within hours, Jason winds up selling trees door-to-door for a flakey conservation group, while Sophie starts videotaping herself.  Her goal is to choreograph 30 dances in 30 days and upstream the results to YouTube.</p> <p>Immediately, both fail in their separate ventures, all the time fronting a veneer of success to each other. Jason, unable to convince his fellow Californians about the need to plant saplings, winds up befriending an old man selling a $4.00 hairdryer, whom he visits daily. Sophie, meanwhile, begins an affair with Marshall, a 50-year-old whose phone number she finds on the back of a drawing on her wall.</p> <p>Can true love survive? And what about Jason's power to stop time in its tracks?</p> <p>Ms. July, who not only acts in her own films, but directs and writes them, here reclaims the glory she first garnered for her prize-winning feature debut <em>Me and You and Everyone We Know </em>(2005). Also a performance artist and a short story writer, she is very much the ovaries' answer to Woody Allen. If only July produced films as frequently.</p> <p>But unlike Allen, whose dialogue is consistently quotable and whose witticisms can bear being divorced from their settings, July's <em>tête-à-têtes </em>gain much of their hilarity from the situations they are tied to.</p> <p>For example, in the opening scene, Jason and Sophie are both lying on couches, with their heels touching, each working on their own computers, when Jason suddenly readjusts himself. </p> <p>Sophie: Get me some water.</p> <p>Jason: I'm not getting up. I'm just shifting.</p> <p>July's genius is how, with the interplay between this simplest of exchanges and the close-ups of each actor's face, she and her editor, Andrew Bird, capture both the Everyman aspects of this moth-eaten Romeo and Juliet and their oddball uniqueness.</p> <p>Accordingly, <em>The Future </em>is a must-see for addicts of the quirky. If you love being in love, and don't mind the woebegone aftermath, this little indie will be pure bliss for you.</p> <p><img alt="" height="131" src="/sites/default/files/images/guard-brendan-gleeson.jpg" style="width:150px; height:98px; float:right" width="200" /><strong>2.) <em>The Guard</em></strong></p> <p>After the screening of <em>The Guard</em>, a retired British schoolmarm from Leicestershire, who stays with me annually whether I desire it or not, noted, "What a joy! How refreshing! Do you think it will be a success?"</p> <p>I replied, with an inner sadness spreading outwards, that there was not a chance in hell. My reasoning was simple: no matter how good this Irish actioner was -- and it is -- I could not remember the last time anyone said to me while sipping on a Cosmopolitan, "I can't wait for the next Brendan Gleeson feature."</p> <p>This is a darn shame, because Gleeson is seldom less than grand in any role he takes on, whether it's Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody in the Harry Potter series, Winston Churchill in <em>Into the Storm</em>, or Martin Cahill in John Boorman's <em>The General</em>.</p> <p>Here, once again, Gleeson creates a memorable hero, Sgt. Gerry Boyle, an Irish policeman who thinks nothing of ingesting a tab of acid he's just removed from a newly deceased teen who's died in a car crash. Boyle's reasoning: he wants to save the victim's mother the distress of knowing her son was a druggie.</p> <p>Standing by the remnants of the auto and the remnants of bodies, he says with glee, "What a beautiful fucking day!"</p> <p>The roguish officer of the law also enjoys his beer in spades, is an aficionado of Chet Baker, calls parapalegics "spastics," is a former Olympic swimmer (he came in fourth), and has a disparaging word for most Russian writers with the exception, I recall, of Gogol.</p> <p>Well, to get the story moving, in Boyle's small town, several murders suddenly occur at the same time a representative of the FBI arrives on the scene, Agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle). It appears a drug trafficking ring will be utilizing the Irish coastline for smuggling in a half billion dollars worth of cocaine. Just where, though, is the mystery...and the comedy? Imagine a droll version of <em>In the Heat of the Night </em>with a few bullets in the head for the baddies and several in the back for the goodies. Much of the humor stems from the two leads' black-vs.-white banter, and how they move from a dismissal of each other's talents to an eventual jovial respect.</p> <p>This, though, is Gleeson's picture from beginning to end. Whether frolicking with a pair of prostitutes dressed as coppers, spouting amiable racisms ("I only thought black lads were drug dealers," or vulnerably caring for his cancer-ridden mom (the superb Finnula Flanagan), this actor's actor never for a second allows you to think Boyle is just a cartoon. He's a full-blooded, endearing entity you'll definitely want to encounter again in a sequel.</p> <p><img alt="" height="250" src="/sites/default/files/images/menstruation-machine.jpg" style="width:120px; height:150px; float:right" width="200" /><strong>3.) "Menstruation Machine"/"Takashi's Take"</strong></p> <p>One of the conversation-producing highlights of the Museum of Modern Art's new exhibition <em>Talk to Me</em> (July 24-Nov.7, 2011) is Sputniko!'s "Menstruation Machine," which is composed of a beautifully shaped aluminum contraption, an acrylic rendering of a man dressed as a woman wearing the invention, and a music video entitled "Menstruation – Takashi's Take."</p> <p>In the short music video of sorts, a young transvestite, Takashi, transforms himself into a beautiful young trendette with an orange wig and then straps on the machine to totally experience what it is like to be a female, cramps and all.</p> <p>Walking about the streets of Tokyo with Sputniko! at his side, Takashi glories in his newfound loveliness until he starts bleeding and wants to know if it shows.</p> <p>The lyrics state, "It hurts.... Well, it’s going to hurt more."</p> <p>Sputniko!, apparently, is the Annie Sprinkle/Karen Finley of this decade, employing art in a funnish yet feminist manner. She avows with glee to be anti-menstruation, anti-birthing, and pro-mechanical penises.</p> <p>In fact, if you watch her video "Child Production Machine," you'll hear the lyrics, "When I pulled my Tampon out/ It flew off/Now my toilet looks like a massacre scene" and "Darwinism doesn't decide everything/Biology doesn’t mean justice."</p> <p>As for Sputniko!'s stance on menstruation, she writes, "It’s 2011, so why are humans still menstruating?</p> <p>"As a female artist I had one intriguing question I wanted to solve.</p> <p>When the contraceptive pill first became commercially available in the 1960s, it was deliberately designed to have a pill-free, menstruating week every month. This was because the doctors felt that users would find having no periods too worrying and unacceptable. 50 years have passed since then, and modern technology has accomplished even more -- space travel, mobile phones, Internet, cloning, and genetically modified foods -- but women are still bleeding. New pills such as Anya and Seasonique, which reduce the frequency of menstruation to none or four times a year, have recently been developed, but they are not yet widely used."</p> <p>Well, if Sputniko! has her way, it's bye-bye to Kotex.</p> <p>Don't worry! There are many more bloodless videos and exhibits to interact with at <em>Talk to Me</em>, which was curated by MoMA design department curator Paola Antonelli. Please note this is a very loud -- in both color and sound -- event. And it's kid friendly.</p> </div> <section> </section> Sun, 24 Jul 2011 00:25:04 +0000 Brandon Judell 2149 at http://www.culturecatch.com Shorties: Bashing Cruz, Singing Lulu, and Woofing Canines http://www.culturecatch.com/index.php/film/pedro-almodovar-philip-seymour-hoffman-hal-holbrook <span>Shorties: Bashing Cruz, Singing Lulu, and Woofing Canines</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/index.php/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>November 12, 2009 - 23:30</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/index.php/taxonomy/term/899" hreflang="en">drama films</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><img align="left" alt="Pirate-Radio" height="214" src="/sites/default/files/images/Pirate-Radio.jpg" style="float:right" width="260" /></p> <p> </p> <p><strong><i>Broken Embraces</i></strong></p> <p>Finally, a celluloid gift for all scholars in the midst of writing a thesis on Pedro <span data-scayt_word="Almodovar" data-scaytid="1">Almodovar</span>. However, for the rest of us who might have a less academic bent, Pedro's latest offering is an unending, un-suspenseful, increasingly irritating, yet well-acted paean to Hollywood of the '<span data-scayt_word="50s" data-scaytid="2">50s</span>, filmmaking in general, passion, and jealousy, all topics he's handled with much more wit and panache in the past.</p> <p>Here, blind screenwriter Mateo Blanco (Lluis Homar), who uses the pseudonym Harry Caine, is visited by a young man with an idea for a script about a young homosexual who doesn't get along with his father.</p> <p>Harry realizes that the tale is autobiographical and that the gent pitching it is the son of a corporate millionaire with whose lover Lena (Penelope Cruz) Mateo once had a fatal affair. Mateo had also cast Lena in the last movie he ever directed before he lost his eyesight.</p> <p>In an eternal flashback, one that seems as lengthy as the Great Wall of China, Mateo relates the whole story to the son of his female caretaker and agent. Now just who is this young man? And how did Mateo lose his eyesight? And how many new ways can Almodovar find to brutalize women? Let's see! How about pushing Cruz down a staircase, letting her have sex with an old man causing her to vomit, smacking her head against a car window, and later having another auto ram into her? This all makes the 20-minute "comic" rape in <i>Kika</i> and the abduction of an actress in <i>Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down</i> seem like feminist picnics.</p> <p>However, to accuse Almodovar of misogyny would be ridiculous. He clearly isn't. He's just not clued in at times to what an asshole he's being.</p> <p><i>Broken Embraces</i> ends with the following voiceover: "A film has to be finished even if you do it blindly." The previous 128 minutes are proof that that is clearly not the case.</p> <p><strong><i>Pirate Radio</i></strong></p> <p>When it comes to emitting happiness, <i>Pirate Radio</i> is without an iota of competition this season. With a soundtrack including "Judy in Disguise," "So Long Marianne," "Let's Dance," "A Whiter Shade of Pale," "Georgy Girl," "Elenore," and a treasure trove of other tuneful ditties by such '60s mainstays as The Easybeats, The McCoys, and The Tremeloes, you'd be bopping in your seat no matter what was on screen. Thankfully, writer/director/executive producer Richard Curtis doesn't fail us on that account.</p> <p>Based on a true tale of government obstruction of the arts -- although none of it seems quite feasible as portrayed -- this here is an account of how British politicos led by Sir Alistair Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh) tried to outlaw rock 'n' roll from the airwaves in 1966.</p> <p>In protest, a bunch of "high"-living misfits descended on a ship and broadcast the Rolling Stones and Lulu from just outside U.K. territorial waters. Among these oddball heroes were The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the legendary Gavin (Rhys Ifans), a lesbian chef, plus boatloads of willing groupies and one male virgin, Carl (a charming Tom Sturridge), who's trying very hard to get rid of that stigma.</p> <p>A hoot from beginning to end, plus a Valentine to those days when youth thought music could change the world (and it did), expect <i>Pirate Radio</i> to become a minor cult phenomenon when it's released on DVD next year.</p> <p><strong><i>That Evening Sun</i></strong></p> <p>Hal Holbrook, 84, has always been one of the few great American actors giving those British thespians addressed as "Sir" a run for their knighthood. Now in a tiny little indie, he throws off yet another bravura performance.</p> <p>As Abner Meecham, an elderly Tennessee farmer, he's an escapee from an old folks home. Returning to his homestead, he discovers his son has rented it out to a family headed by a violent drunk (Walter Goggins). With the main house occupied, Abner takes over the old tenant shack on his property and starts a war of nerves and dog barking to regain his territorial prerogative.</p> <p>Based upon a short story by William Gay, the film, beautifully directed by Scott Teems and shot by Robert Taylor, is never predictable, which is a rather unique attribute nowadays.</p> </div> <section> </section> Fri, 13 Nov 2009 04:30:20 +0000 Brandon Judell 1290 at http://www.culturecatch.com